Hoe, Hoe, Hoe
On the 12 days of Christmas, my true love said to me, “Get back in the garden and finish your chores!” Without further ado, let’s get to the top 12 chores.
1. Prune roses now that their leaves have fallen and it’s easier to see plant architecture. Remove all crossing or inward-growing branches. Eliminate all dead and weak branches. Finish by pruning down into a balanced shape. Clean planting beds of all rose clippings to minimize reinfection when spring comes.
2. Gutters, remember those annoying house appurtenances? Saddle up pardner. Gallop up the ladder and clean them with gusto. The last thing you want on a winter’s night is water damage inside because you didn’t address the outside.
3. Birds — you owe them doubly if you left lawns and beds devoid of leaves, worms, fruits, and overwintering insects they count on to survive winter. To assuage your pristine yard guilt, put out and fill bird feeders. While you are at it, a birdbath makes a nice holiday gift.
4. Food scrap recycling — start now! All food, bones, paper towels, and grease can be recycled. Do it and feel good, or even better, about yourself.
5. “It is better to give than receive” rings especially true this time of year. Give generously to any and every Rye wildlife and environmental group.
6. Sprinklers and hose bibs: shut off water supply to prevent frozen pipes. If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn off the controller. Make sure to empty and store hoses so they don’t crack from freezing temperatures.
7. Seed catalogs are here just in time for prime armchair gardening. Spend time planning your spring gardens. Get a head start. Order seeds before they run out.
8. Inventory all gardening tools. Sharpen secateurs, clippers, and loppers for safer and easier pruning. A clean cut when pruning is less likely to let in disease. Replace or fix broken tools. When warmer weather rolls around, you’ll be ready to roll. No dawdling excuses.
9. House plants need to be moved back from icy windows on frigid nights to prevent chilling injury. Water with tepid, not cold, water to reduce shock.
10. Holiday poinsettia plants do best in spots that get sun at least half the day and in rooms where the night temperatures are in the high 50s to mid-60s. Keep plants away from drafts, registers, and radiators. Let soil dry slightly between thorough watering. Be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions. Overwintering geraniums thrive in bright light and cool temperatures. Remember not to overwater.
11. Azaleas and rhododendrons, which are shallow-rooted and susceptible to winter burn, require mulching. This is especially true if leaf blower vigilantes rounded up every last stitch of potential organic mulch from your grounds.
12. All power equipment should be winterized before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts. Drain fuel systems or mix a gas stabilizing additive into tank. Better and simpler, go electric — no oil, gas, spark plug. Just charge, go, and oh so quiet.
13. You’ve read this far, so, what the heck, let’s go for lucky 13. Note to self and any gardening crew: Next year, mulch-mow lawn all summer and leaves in fall. Get your family to spread good cheer by spreading extra mulched leaves on garden beds. Those are gifts that keep on giving.